Dont be a victim!
Please be aware that the Johnson City Power Board (JCPB) continues to hear concerns from residential and commercial customers regarding scammers. Scammers will often pose as utility bill collectors or JCPB employees via phone, emails, or in-person, in order to steal your personal information and money. These scams often target the elderly, non-English speakers, and businesses, but anyone can fall victim to these scams especially during the summer, winter, and holiday season. The winter time is the most common time for scams to happen as the threat of losing power during cold weather can be enough to freeze your common sense. Keep your cool and keep these tips in mind:
Be aware of the types of scams!
- Phone Scams:
- Scammers will often use "spoofing" software so the phone call appears to be coming from JCPB on your caller ID. Callers threaten to disconnect your service if you do not pay immediately. These scammers tend to use intimidation and scare tactics in attempt to coerce customers into providing payment information over the phone.
- Email Scams:
- Email scams try to access your personal information such as your banking details, social security number, passwords, etc., in order to gain access to your online financial or personal accounts or to get you to make a payment on a fake website. These emails may contain links to online bills or links that redirect you to an unfamiliar website.
- Door-to-Door Scams:
- Occasionally, scammers will be bold enough to go door-to-door. These scammers will attempt to enter your home under false pretenses such as asking to check your electrical wiring or metering.
Watch for red flags!
- No Appoinment:
- If a person claiming to be from JCPB shows up at your home without an appointment or prior notification, they may be a scammer. Always ask supposed employees for proper identification. Additionally, all JCPB company vehicles are marked with the company's name or logo. If you are approached by someone claiming to be from JCPB, check to see if their vehicle is clearly marked and ask to see their employee badge. Call JCPB's HR Department at (423) 952-5162 to confirm the representative's identity if you are unsure. Calls are answered 8am-5pm, Monday thru Friday.
- Strange Payment Method:
- Scammers will often ask for prepaid debit cards. They will ask you to buy the card at a local store and then call them back to provide the card or pin number. JCPB will not request a specific payment method. The payment method is always initiated by the customer.
- Strange Time Frame:
- Scammers will often demand payment within the hour. They want you to pay immediately so you cannot make a good decision, and they will use threats to get you to do so. The most common threat that scammers use is to tell you that a truck is in your neighborhood ready to make the disconnection. This is meant to rush you so you get flustered and make a mistake. Also be aware of phone calls that occur outside of the hours of 8am to 5pm.
- Unprofessional Behavior:
- If you receive a poorly written email that contains spelling/grammatical errors or a phone call from a person using threats or an angry tone, be aware that you may be dealing with a scammer.
Learn to protect yourself!
- If you receive a phone call, ask for the person's name, department, and phone number. Then call JCPB's HR Department at (423) 952-5162 to confirm the representative's identity and the validity of their requests. Calls are answered 8am-5pm, Monday thru Friday.
- Check your account status with SmartHub to know immediately the state of your account if a scammer contacts you.
- Never share your personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security number, or date of birth over phone or email unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
- If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, immediately report the incident to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP. If you already have provided information to a possible scammer, contact your bank immediately. Also contact the three national credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - and request a notation made on your account so that it doesn't impact your credit rating.
- Share this information with friends and family so they don't become victims of scams. The elderly are common victims of these types of scams, but anyone who pays a utility bill is a potential victim.